Khushwant Singh at a reading in New Delhi
2 February 1915
Hadali, British India (current Sargodha District, Pakistan)
|Alma mater||St. Stephen's College, Delhi
King's College London
|Occupation||Journalist, writer, historian|
Khushwant Singh (born 2 February 1915) is an Indian novelist and journalist.
An Indo-Anglian novelist, Singh is best known for his trenchant secularism, his humor, and an abiding love of poetry. His comparisons of social and behavioral characteristics of Westerners and Indians are laced with acid wit. He served as editor of several literary and news magazines, as well as two broadsheet newspapers, through the 1970s and 1980s. He is a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award in India.
Singh was born in Hadali District Khushab, Punjab (which now lies in Pakistan), in a Sikh family. His father, Sir Sobha Singh (builder), was a prominent builder in Lutyens' Delhi. His uncle Sardar Ujjal Singh (1895–1983) was Ex. Governor of Punjab & Tamil Nadu.
Singh has edited Yojana, an Indian government journal; The Illustrated Weekly of India, a newsweekly; and two major Indian newspapers, The National Herald and the Hindustan Times. During his tenure, The Illustrated Weekly became India's pre-eminent newsweekly, with its circulation raising from 65,000 to 400000. After working for nine years in the weekly, on 25 July 1978, a week before he was to retire, the management asked Singh to leave "with immediate effect". The new editor was installed the same day. After Singh's departure, the weekly suffered a huge drop in readership.
From 1980 through 1986, Singh was a member of Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1974 for service to his country. In 1984, he returned the award in protest against the siege of the Golden Temple by the Indian Army. In 2007, the Indian government awarded Khushwant Singh the Padma Vibhushan.
Singh is said to wake up at 4 am each day and write his columns by hand. His works range from political commentary and contemporary satire to outstanding translations of Sikh religious texts and Urdu poetry. Despite the name, his column "With Malice Towards One and All" regularly contains secular exhortations and messages of peace. In addition, he is one of the last remaining writers to have personally known most of the stalwart writers and poets of Urdu and Punjabi languages, and profiles his recently deceased contemporaries in his column.
As a public figure, Singh has been accused of favoring the ruling Congress party, especially during the reign of Indira Gandhi. He is derisively termed as an Establishment Liberal. Singh's faith in the Indian political system has been shaken by events such as anti-Sikh riots that followed Indira Gandhi's assassination, in which major Congress politicians are alleged to be involved. But he has remained resolutely positive on the promise of Indian democracy and worked via Citizen's Justice Committee floated by H. S. Phoolka who is a senior advocate of Delhi High Court.
He is married to Kawal Malik and has a son, named Rahul Singh, and a daughter, named Mala. Actress Amrita Singh is the daughter of his brother Daljit Singh and Rukhsana Sultana. He stays in "Sujan Singh Park", near Khan Market New Delhi, Delhi's first apartment complex, built by his father in 1945, and named after his grandfather.
Honors and awards
- Rockfeller Grant,1966
- Padma Bhushan, Government of India (1974)(He returned the decoration in 1984 in protest against the Union government's siege of the Golden Temple, Amritsar)
- Honest Man of the Year, Sulabh International (2000)
- Punjab Rattan Award, The Government of Punjab (2006)
- Padma Vibhushan, Government of India (2007)
- Sahitya academy fellowship award by Sahitya academy of India (2010)
- ‘All-India Minorities Forum Annual Fellowship Award’ by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav (2012)
- The Mark of Vishnu and Other Stories, 1950
- The History of Sikhs, 1953
- Train to Pakistan, 1956
- The Voice of God and Other Stories, 1957
- I Shall Not Hear the Nightingale, 1959
- The Sikhs Today, 1959
- The Fall of the Kingdom of the Punjab, 1962
- A History of the Sikhs, 1963
- Ranjit Singh: The Maharajah of the Punjab, 1963
- Ghadar 1915: India's first armed revolution, 1966
- A History of the Sikhs, 1966 (2nd edition)
- A Bride for the Sahib and Other Stories, 1967
- Black Jasmine, 1971
- Tragedy of Punjab, 1984
- Delhi: A Novel, 1990
- Sex, Scotch and Scholarship: Selected Writings, 1992
- Not a Nice Man to Know: The Best of Khushwant Singh, 1993
- We Indians, 1993
- Women and Men in My Life, 1995
- Uncertain Liaisons; Sex, Strife and Togetherness in Urban India, 1995
- Declaring Love in Four Languages, by Khushwant Singh and Sharda Kaushik, 1997
- The Company of Women, 1999
- Truth, Love and a Little Malice (an autobiography), 2002
- With Malice towards One and All
- The End of India, 2003
- Burial at the Sea, 2004
- Paradise and Other Stories, 2004
- A History of the Sikhs: 1469-1838, 2004
- Death at My Doorstep, 2005
- A History of the Sikhs: 1839-2004, 2005
- The Illustrated History of the Sikhs, 2006
- Why I Supported the Emergency: Essays and Profiles, 2009
- The Sunset Club, 2010
- Agnostic Khushwant Singh, There is no GOD, 2012
- The Good, the Bad and the Ridiculous, 2013 (Co-authored with Humra Qureshi)
Short story collections
- The Mark of Vishnu and Other Stories. London, Saturn Press, 1950.
- The Voice of God and Other Stories. Bombay, Jaico, 1957.
- A Bride for the Sahib and Other Stories. New Delhi, Hind, 1967.
- Black Jasmine. Bombay, Jaico, 1971
- The Collected Stories. N.p., Ravi Dayal, 1989.
- The Portrait of a Lady
- The Strain
- Success Mantra
- A Love Affair In London
- Karma, a short story by Khushwant Singh
- Secularism gone Overboard
- Khushwant Singh, Forward, in Aditya Bhattacharjea and Lola Chatterjee (eds), The Fiction of St Stephen's
- Vinita Rani, “STYLE AND STRUCTURE IN THE SHORT STORIES OF KHUSHWANT SINGH. A CRITICAL STUDY”, PhD Thesis, http://mjpru.ac.in/PhdDetails/PhdEnglish/PhdData/Vinita.doc
- "Yojana". Retrieved 18 September 2013.
- Khushwant Singh (1993). "Farewell to the Illustrated Weekly". In Nandini Mehta. Not a Nice Man To Know. Penguin Books. p. 8. "On 25 July 1978, one week before he was to retire, he was abruptly asked to leave with immediate effect. Khushwant quietly got up, collected his umbrella, and without a word to his staff, left the office where he had worked for nine years, raising the Illustrated Weekly's circulation from 65,000 to 400000. The new editor was installed the same day, and ordered by the Weekly's management to kill the "Farewell" column."
- "Khushwant Singh's Journalism: The Illustrated Weekly of India". Sepiamutiny.com. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
- "Those who said no to top awards". The Times of India. 2008-01-20. Retrieved 2008-11-05.
- Singh, Khushwant, "Oh, That Other Hindu Riot Of Passage," Outlook Magazine, November, 07, 2004 , available at 
- "Making history with brick and mortar". Hindustan Times. September 15, 2011.
- Singh, Khushwant (1963). A History of the Sikhs. Princeton University Press.
- Singh, Khushwant (1966). A History of the Sikhs (2 ed.). Princeton University Press.
- Singh, Khushwant (2004). A History of the Sikhs: 1469-1838 (2, illustrated ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 434. ISBN 9780195673081. Retrieved July 2009.
- Singh, Khushwant (2005). A History of the Sikhs: 1839-2004 (2, illustrated ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 547. ISBN 9780195673098. Retrieved July 2009.
- Chopra, Radika."Social Criticism through Social History in Khushwant Singh's non-fiction". Muse India Journal. Issue 44. July–August 2012. 
- Chopra, Radika. "Fiction as Social History:A Study of Khushwant Singh's Novels". The IUP JOURNAL OF ENGLISH STUDIES.Vol 1. viii, No.2,June 2013.p59-77.http://www.iupindia.in/1306/English%20Studies/Fiction_as_Social_History.html
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